The Kentucky defense smothered the Southern Miss rushing attack in week one. After holding the Golden Eagles to just 55 yards on the ground, they face an Eastern Kentucky team that only rushed for 25 yards and threw the ball almost 50 times against WKU.
“I think we gotta play the ball in the air better,” defensive coordinator Matt House said after today’s practice. “This quarterback does a good job. He gets rid of the ball on time. He’s got good receivers to throw it too, so they’re certainly going to present a challenge.”
Even though EKU has a potent passing attack, it starts by stopping the run.
“Let me tell you something, EKU’s got two big, good backs too,” said House. “It’s still going to start with stopping the run. When you make a team one-dimensional, then you earn the right to rush the passer. But if you don’t stop the run, you don’t earn the right to rush the passer.”
Edge rushers like Denzil Ware, this week’s SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, are eager to rush the passer whenever they can. EKU’s offense presents a great opportunity to tally more sacks, but Ware and his teammates can’t tee off until they force their opponent away from the run.
“In order for us to get them to throw that ball 50 times again this week, is for us to stop the run,” Ware said. “That’s always our main focus is to stop the run.”
Mark Stoops said he’s been “hammering them over the head with sledge hammers” to stop the run, and that won’t change just because EKU likes to air it out on offense.